What next for Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup winning youngsters?

Arsenal under-18s confirmed their status at the best youth team in the country by securing a prestigious Premier Academy League and FA Youth Cup double, but what is the next stage in their development. Read on for a player-by-player analysis.

James Shea

The Islington-born ‘keeper was one of Arsenal’s most impressive performers in the 2nd leg of the Final at Anfield and, despite his lack of height, he is an excellent shot stopper.

Shea recently signed his first professional contract, although he is still likely to be used in some under-18s games next season. He finds his path in the Reserves blocked by Vito Mannone and Wojciech Szczesny.

Craig Eastmond

A solid, dependable right-back, Craig signed professional terms this summer and will be second-choice in his position for the Reserves next season behind Gavin Hoyte. The Wandsworth-born youngster is unlikely to make a career at Arsenal but could become a valuable player in the Championship or maybe even the Premier League.

Kyle Bartley

The centre-back came up with some crucial goals in the FA Youth Cup run and will look to further continue his development next season. Academy head Liam Brady has already hinted that Kyle should be looking to go on loan next campaign, with League One side Brighton reportedly interested.

Luke Ayling

Luke was one of the revelations of the season at centre-back and was justly rewarded with a professional contract. No longer, eligible for the u-18s, he will look to have a full season in the Reserves before going out on loan the following campaign.

Thomas Cruise

Still criticised in some quarters, but came on leaps and bounds at left-back last season. Should be a regular for the Reserves following Gibbs’ promotion to the first-team, but it’s difficult to see him making it at Arsenal in the long run.

Henri Lansbury

After four seasons of playing in the FA Youth Cup, Henri will look to step up to first-team football next season. Having already enjoyed a highly-successful loan spell at Scunthorpe, a temporary switch to a Premier League or Championship side could be the next move. Alternatively, he could be an integral part of the Carling Cup squad.

Jack Wilshere

It’s hard to believe that Jack will still be eligible to play in the FA Youth Cup next season, but he will look to push on to the first team on a more regular basis, starting with pre-season.

Francis Coquelin

Francis enjoyed a superb first season in North London and could be set for a run in the Carling Cup team next campaign.

Emmanuel Frimpong

Unfortunate to miss the second-leg at Anfield through injury, but could partner Coquelin in the Carling Cup in 2009/10.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

Another candidate for the Carling Cup team, Jay’s first target for next campaign will be to identify his long-term position; he has played everywhere apart from right-back since he joined the club.

Sanchez Watt

Is likely to be involved in the Carling Cup squad and is highly rated by Wenger.

Gilles Sunu

Frenchman was tipped for a move away from Arsenal this summer but the signs suggest he is staying now. Faces a fight to get into the Carling Cup squad.

Rhys Murphy

With Watt and Sunu to compete with, his first-team opportunities could be limited but should get regular run-outs for the Reserves. Another candidate for a loan spell.



  1. I really do think some of these players need to go on loan now, to get a taste of first team football and I would like to see lansbury, Bartley and possibly one of JET, Coquelin or Frimpong to get some Championship/League One football!

  2. Unrelated topic, but I’ve just been informed by a colleage that a “Young Arsenal XI” will play at Maidenhead United on Tuesday 28th July.

  3. Highest rated: Watt, Sunu or Murphy? Does Wenger really rate Watt? I mean, he is brilliantly talented, but I hear his attitude is not the best… And what is the comparison with Afobe, Ansah and Freeman?

    Wilshere, Lansbury, Coquelin, Bartley, Watt. These will be first team regulars. Any others, y’all think?

  4. I am very impressed with the young team. I cant wait for this lot and the lads behind them to come through. I know it is only likely to be a couple, however, it could be a couple from a good 5 or so.


  5. have to say I was really impressed with Wilshere, Lansbury, Coquelin, Bartley, Watt in the first leg of the cup… JET struck me as very passive and uninterested, after hearing so much about him I was left very unimpressed but realise it was just one game in which we were cruising a times. Very excited about this young crop on the whole tho, just hope they don’t get too cocky! now is the time to work bloody hard and not expect it to happen

  6. Thomas cruise has been good for a left back considering thats not his best position. Hes a centre back i remeber him playing alongside rodwell thought he was a very promising centre back. But hes not really grown he looked quite big for the under 16 but hes not really grown physically. Shame cause hes a talent.

    Lanbsury and wilshere are the nearest to the first team i reckon. I think jay thomas needs to go on loan and see the real world of football. Its too esay for him in youth level cause hes big and strong. Lets see how strong and mentally strong he is in the championship or league 1 when tackles go flying in.

  7. How would you rate our Centre backs compared to Jack Rodwell? It’s amazing that Jack is the same age as Kyle and he is now with the U-21 team. He will probably be sold to United for 25 millions within couple of years, I reckon.

  8. i think some people are being a little over-optimistic about the futures of some of the players. it would be great if it did work out for4-5 as some suggest, but i think 2-3 would be more realistic with wilshere, lansbury and coquelin being my picks. i’d be interested to see the same article for the previous crop (those that are still left that is): schezny (sp), agogo, rodgers, hoyte, traore, steer, dunne, randall, merida, gibbs, simpson, barazite, fonte (looks like he’s gone already).

  9. Anyone who isn’t in with a shout of the CC team should be loaned out, reserve team football isn’t competitive enpough to further development of players. I wouldn’t go down the Spurs route of leaving the reserve league but playing nothing but reserve football for a year won’t do players much good.

  10. Looking back at this, one sees how difficult it is to develop talent. Four years on, none of these players is a bonafide star.

    The closest is Wilshere, but injury/growing pains have robbed him of the chance to really show his brilliance for a sustained period. If he can stay fit, he may be the only start to come from this group.

    Frimpong, Bartling and Coquelin are legitimate premiership players. The latter for me has the potential to be a star actually as he has both offensive and defensive skills, but it appears he isnt responding to coaching, as Wenger seems reluctant to play him, despite being fit and skilled.

    Emmanuel-Thomas is supremely skilled, but bizarrely seems disinterested in doing much with it. He is at Championship level and not looking likely to do more.

    Eastmond, Watt, Lansbury are solid Championship players. Not looking likely to do more. Afobe and Cruise will settle at about this level. Afobe has some potential to do more, but its uncertain. If Sunnu was still in England, that’s about where he would be too.

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